Formerly,Bar None Ranch, of Berlin, NY, we are now Climbing Tree Farm, of New Lebanon. We raise PASTURED POULTRY, LAMB, GRASS-FED BEEF, and WOODLAND/PASTURE-RAISED, MILK-FED PORK. We keep our animals true to their instincts- letting our pigs dig, our chickens range, our sheep graze. We feed rotationally graze on pasture and silvo-pasture (in the woods). We work with a local dairy to feed our pigs Jersey milk. We are conscientious stewards of the land, and our animals.

Please visit our website
or contact us with questions or to place orders.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wishing on Porcupines

One of our neighbors.

I recently read this:

“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”
Francesca Lia Block

As a new farm we have a lot of wishes around here. I wonder if you can wish on wiggly pig noses, on frosty grass, or maybe on porcupines in apple trees (all of which we have). I've heard that if you make your wishes public it sometimes helps them come true (except in cases involving birthday candles and shooting stars). On the off chance that the universe will hear our wishes and respond, here's our wish list:

Climbing Tree Farm Wishes For:

  • A few steady pig clients. We have heritage, whey-fed pigs ready every other week. We would love to be on a regular schedule with a store or restaurant who is looking for whole pigs or cut pork. (We deliver locally or have a delivery service available to New York City). We charge $3.75 per lb. whole/uncut. $7 per lb. cut and packed for a whole or half.

  • Help creating a website.

  • A meat broker. We're farmers because we're good at farming, not because we're good at business.

  • A publication for me to submit articles about farm-life with kids to regularly.

  • More meat breed sheep to help grow our flock.

  • A constant source of beautiful heritage piglets.

  • World Peace.

Columbia land Conservancy Farmer Landowner Match

Climbing Tree View

I was interviewed this week for an article about land conservancy farmer/ landowner match programs. Here is. Our farm buying story: About six years ago we were living at the farm where my grandmother grew up as caretakers. The barnyard around the big old barns that my great-grandfather had worked were chest deep in grass and the condensation from the grass was threatening to kill the barns. We acquired some sheep to eat the grass, one thing lead to another, and we found ourselves in the market for our own farmland. For six years we scoured the conventional real estate market to no avail. When you buy a home for a family you can make sacrifices in your ideal environment in a way that you can't when you buy a home for a farm. For example, our farm had to have a south face, it had to have a water source, be close to a slaughter house, be close enough to outlets for our products, and have a mixture of pasture and woods. We found the Columbia Land Conservancy through friends who farm, and didn't look into the farmer/ landowner match program for months. The first farm we looked at is the one that we bought. because people at the Conservancy works with farmers regularly they knew how to help u s find land suitable for our type of farming and were able to recommend unconventional financing avenues for farmers. It was SO wonderful to work with an organization that "got us." It was sad for us to move off the land that my family had lived on, and farmed, for one hundred years(a story for a different time), but it has felt wonderful to move onto the previous owners' family land. Selling through the Conservancy to a farmer Is a way to pass a special piece of land on to people who will cherish it and know the land deeply (tenants of any good farmer's job). There seems to be constant discussion about how to draw young people out of cities and back to small towns, and about lack of employment opportunity for People coming out of college today. In our little town there are several new small farms run by just those young people, a few of whom found their land (bought or leased) through the Conservancy. The community surrounding the small farms in our town is beautiful and alive, and there is now healthy, delicious food in a town often referred to in the past as a "food desert." In short, if you have land that you are thinking about leasing or selling, consider contacting your local Conservancy. Your land will be cherished. Your community will be alive. You (and generations to come) will have good things to eat. For more information about the Columbia Land Conservancy:

Friday, November 16, 2012


It’s not a secret that locally grown, sustainably and humanely raised meat costs more than conventional meat. (Though there is the argument that eating “well raised” meat is cheaper in the long run once you figure in the costs of health care and environmental degradation that follow in the wake of conventional meat consumption and production). As farmers, whose main product is meat, we field the question “how am I supposed to buy local meat when it costs more?” We recommend eating smaller portions of high quality meat less frequently, or cooking with less expensive cuts of high quality meat. I don’t like to proselytize about our meat, but urge consumers to look deeply into what they’re eating when it looks like they’re getting a good “deal.” If you are looking for an inexpensive, delicious, quick, prepare-ahead dish to serve for the holidays using local pork try my mother, Martha Montgomery’s, Coarse County Roast Pork Pate.


If you like roast pork flaking off the bone, you might enjoy this hearty appetizer. It can also be used in a sandwich or on picnics.

Active prep time about 15 minutes.
Recipe may be multiplied and preserved frozen.

• ¾ pound unsalted pork fat (optional) or high quality fatty bacon (optional)
• 2 pounds boned blade steak of pork (or other inexpensive cut)
• 1 clove garlic
• ½ cup water
• ½ teaspoon dried sage or a large sprig of fresh sage, minced
• salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275ºF or set up crock pot on low. Cut the pork fat or bacon in strips. Cut up the pork shoulder - fine dicing makes less work later but isn’t necessary. Peal and crush garlic. Cut up sage if using fresh, discarding stems. Put all ingredients in a heavy crock with tight lid, or crock pot and bake until the pork is tender – about 4-5 hours. Strain the meat mixture in a fine sieve over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Allow the fat to separate from juice in the bowl. Chill to remove. Pound the meat with a mallet or shred with two forks till the consistency of course pate. Press tightly into one large or several small ramekins. Return the non-fatty juice to the pork if desired. Melt the reserved fat and pour over the pate to serve as a preservative, if desired, or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Keep for up to one week in the refrigerator or freeze till serving time. Serve at room temperature with warm, crusty baguette.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hungry Pigs

"Pumpkin Head"

As the days grow cold, our pigs grow hungrier. Fortunately, nature has a plan for that -the fall harvest.  We are lucky to have good farmer friends who share excess apples and pumpkins with our hungry creatures. Our pigs, sheep, and chickens all eat pumpkin and apples enthusiastically. 

Thank you Ioka Valley Farm! (

Pigs "getting into" their breakfast cereal (local grain with whey).
We work with Berkshire Blue and Cricket Creek Farm to feed our pigs raw whey,
a byproduct of cheese making.
Check out our cheese making buddies at:

All of our animals have jobs- the sheep mow, the cats hunt, the chickens fertilize the fields.
The pigs are just finishing turning our garden! (And theyre planting a pumpkin patch!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Winter Market:Lebanon Valley Farmer's Market 2012

LVFM - New Lebanon, NY

Come visit us at the New Lebanon Valley Farmer's Winter Markets!

Located on Route 20 and 22 New Lebanon, NY in the Midtown Mall

Sunday November 11th, 2012
Sunday December 9th, 2012

Use your SNAP/ EBT card at our lovely farmers market and receive a $2 for each $5 in tokens purchased. NO LIMIT!

Holiday Farmer's Market


Farming With Love in our Hearts

Raising children on a farm has been done for several thousand years. We have been doing it for about five. We don't pretend to be experts. We constantly wonder whether we're doing it right.
Our son has always been rough, he runs fast, climbs high (he is the inspiration for our farm name, Climbing Tree Farm),  a game of tag for him is a contact sport. And, he has been coming to the slaughter house with us since he was a toddler. We hoped it wouldn't encourage him to be more rough or callous him to the idea of death. It terrified us when he was three and announced that he wanted to be a "killer"when he grew up. (Which turned out to be his name for a butcher, and made sense because he loved going to visit the butchers twelve children). Mostly he has seemed to understand that our animals have the job of making meat and that, while we treat them well, they are not pets.
When an animal is born here, or when we buy one in, we make it clear immediately to our son which animals will be staying on the farm indefinitely, and who will be used for meat. As a three year old he could tell you: "We keep the girl lambs, but not the boys. The red chickens will lay eggs and we can keep them for two years. The white chickens are for meat and we don't keep them." 
Pigs, while we love them, and scratch behind their ears,  are never kept as pets. 

Until last winter we never formally named a pig (though some have gotten names like Chubby, Big Mama, or Spot to differentiate in the field). That is, until our son met Funny Eyes. A fuzzy runt, named for her beautiful light turquoise eyes with long dark lashes, our son was immediately smitten. (Our pigs usually have deep brown eyes). He could pick his special pig friend out from fifty yards, and often visited with her, despite her shyness.
Because Funny Eyes was the smallest she stayed on the farm much longer than her litter mates. For the past eight months we've been  reminding our son that his pretty-eyed friend would not be able to stay forever. Last week Funny Eyes reached her optimal size and was loaded for slaughter. Our son was there when she was loaded in the trailer, but couldn't look her in her liquid blue eyes to say 
goodbye. All he could do was sob. 
Later, when Funny Eyes had gone, he cried some more, and then 
brightened. "Mama" he asked "can we get Funny Eye's heart back{from the butcher}?" I didn't know where he was going with this, but agreed and asked why."Because, mama, the heart is where all the love is. I want to eat her heart to keep her love." And, so, with this gruesome request, it has become clear: our son is a lover, not a "killer." While initially it creeped me out that our son wants to eat his beloved pig-friend's heart, it made me enormously proud that he thought of a way to transcend the death of his buddy and store up her love. (Not to mention his culinary adventurousness). It also reminds me of the adage "you are what you eat," and makes me thankful that we have the opportunity to feed our children and our community pigs who have been adored, scratched behind the ears, and who have love in their hearts. One question remains, what's the most delicious way to serve pork heart?
Young Funny Eyes....not sure why she's so dirty in this picture, she must have been having fun!

All You Need to Know to Eat Good, Grass-Fed Meat

Informative article:

All You Need to Know to Eat Good, Grass-Fed Meat :

Beauty and Danger in the Air

Above is a photo of a particularly beautiful, and particularly hungry neighbor of  ours. We recently sold our flock of laying hens and this pretty bird is one reason why. He/she was dining twice a day on chicken! While it was a bummer to lose our birds, the silver lining was getting to see this hawk up close, watching it swoop and dive at the"bird food" in the field. It moved with unbelievable speed and precision. 
Predation is a constant problem on our farm. Each predator has a different style; for example, weasels sneak in and slaughter the whole flock, raccoons love chicken breasts, and the hawk seems conscientious. It eats all of the meat off a chicken. We have not figured out how to deal with hawk predation (we move our birds at least weekly, so a covered run would be impractical). Because the hawk is the least wasteful and puts on the most beautiful show of the predators on our farm, I think I like and respect them more than our other chicken-hungry neighbors. Our short term solution to our hawk problem was selling off the layers for the winter. We will have layers again in the spring and are looking for a successful hawk deterrent, besides shooting them, which hardly seems fair to a neighbor who pre-dates us at the farm, and will only encourage another bird to take its place (and is illegal). If you know of a possible solution please pass it along, we'd love to give it a try! No idea too ridiculous.